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Road maintenance budget doubled

ROAD maintenance is set to get a welcome boost following last month's announcement by Transport Minister Keith Hill that the budget for repairing local roads in England is to be doubled to £1 billion over the next two years.

In the first major roads-related announcement since publication of the Government's 10-Year Transport Plan in July, Mr Hill said the money - £535 million in 2001/02 and £555 million in 2002/03 - would allow local authorities to start restoring 270,000km of roads, 52,000 bridges and 223,000km of footways.

The funds, which in each 12-month period will be more than double the amount available in 2000/01, are being allocated as part of the Local Transport Plan (LTP) settlement, which is due to be announced in full this month. For the remaining three years of the five-year LTP settlement, local authorities will receive at least 75% of their allocation for maintenance in 2002/03.

Announcing the funding, Mr Hill said: 'Our local roads need repairing - they have been in a poor state for long enough. This requires significant additional resources and we are committed to making these available.'

Welcoming the news, the British Road Federation's head of policy, Andrew Tesseyman, said: 'This is a promising start to the 10-Year Plan. The Government has started to unlock the resources - it is now up to local authorities to deliver.'

However, he warned that this problem will not be solved overnight and that the investment, though welcome, will need to be increased further if the £7 billion road-maintenance backlog is to be eliminated within the 10-year framework.

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